The world speed record for watercraft was set on this day in 1978. It was achieved by the Australian speed boat Spirit of Australia, which was piloted by Ken Warby. The boat achieved a speed of 511.11 km/h. It is interesting that the Spirit of Australia was made mostly of wood, and propelled by a Westinghouse J34 jet engine, which was also used by some fighter planes at the time.
Ken Warby built the Spirit of Australia practically in his own backyard. He bought the engine at a military surplus auction, allegedly for as little as 69 U.S. dollars. Despite the fact that attempts to break his record were made later, some of which even ended fatally, the record Warby set in 1978 still stands.